Vanessa Dooley, Founder of Jigsaw Early Years Consulting, ex-Ofsted Inspector & No.1 Best Selling Author, has launched a CPD Accredited Award - #JustQuality – in order to help Early Years staff to better prepare for Ofsted inspections, learn to add impact and self-evaluate easier in a practical, accessible and structured way.
As an ex-Ofsted inspector, Hampshire-based Vanessa was able to see that many Early Years settings were finding it hard to self-evaluate and noted that there was nothing in the Ofsted self-evaluation document, besides words, which could evidence the impact staff were making on children’s lives and how they could improve on what they were doing.
Following the release of her best-selling book in 2018, ‘Are You Ready for Your Inspection’ and the launch of Jigsaw’s ‘Are You Ready’ online programme, Vanessa’s idea evolved into help settings be totally ready for their inspection through a practical and accredited award scheme.
There are a few existing accreditations for early years settings to work towards, and none which show what impact these settings are making to children’s lives or offer the support and inspection at the end of the award, covering the whole of the framework in early years.
Vanessa saw the demand after creating a bespoke group of settings who worked with her in creating the award and sharing what they wanted from an accreditation. Vanessa then used her knowledge as group manager of six outstanding settings, as well as her previous inspector role, to create something which gives staff ‘fire in their belly’ to improve on what they do.
Vanessa trialled her accreditation at Honeysuckle Day Nursery, in Reading who had received a disappointing Ofsted inspection in 2018 and after introducing her award and working through it with staff, they recently were re-inspected and achieved the ultimate goal… outstanding! The inspector could see they were using the #JustQuality Adding Impact accredited award to demonstrate their own learning journey and this validated how they were improving constantly.
Alexandra Rourke, Owner of Honeysuckle Day Nursery said: “As a nursery owner it can be an ongoing challenge to maintain staff motivation and many had commented that they had become overwhelmed by the increasing demands and ever moving goal posts within the industry. We had a disappointing Ofsted inspection in 2018 and while I had full confidence in my management team, I felt that their passion and good practise didn’t filter right through to every member of staff. We enlisted the help of Vanessa and signed up for the ‘Just Quality’ accreditation. I can wholeheartedly say that it was the best business decision I have made to date. I believe we already had some strong foundations to work from but taking on Vanessa’s advice allowed us to gain clarity on what needed to change, fully understand why it was necessary and how we could achieve it. The floor books are a fantastic tool to demonstrate how our thought processes evolve and how we continually reflect on our practise. All delivered in a clear and digestible format that serves to inspire and motivate the staff. As a result, my entire team has united, striving toward a common goal. It really was a pleasure to see. Happily, in our latest inspection we achieved ‘Outstanding’ and the inspector praised the staff for their knowledge, confidence and tangible passion. I have no doubt that Vanessa’s support has been paramount in this phenomenal achievement.”
The format of the programme is through the use of #JustQuality floor books, #JustQuality stickers, and #JustQuality specifications. Participants become part of a closed Facebook group to receive further support alongside live videos and interviews from settings who are working through the award. Each term, the setting receive a zoom call with Vanessa to see how they are getting along and in the final month they receive a visit from a #JustQuality assessor to see if they have met the criteria to achieve the accredited award.
Vanessa is hoping that instead of being feared as an inspector by many working in early years settings, she will now be turned to as someone who can offer support, having shared her years of wisdom, knowledge and expertise to fill the gap she believes exists for all who work in early years.
She has been sharing this knowledge since the launch of Jigsaw 2 years ago, already offering a series of services including training courses and e-learning courses for early years CPD, quality improvement inspections and consultancy days, alongside expert articles in industry press, but Vanessa feels the accreditation scheme will provide early years staff with a practical way of improving, as well as tangible evidence of their progress.
Vanessa said: ”Whilst I am an ex-Ofsted inspector, I have also spent years managing nurseries so I’ve experienced the stress associated with being inspected. All of our nurseries achieved outstanding status - but I know how hard it is when you do not know how the system works, or really understand what Ofsted is looking for and I’ve seen the pressure this put on early years practitioners and their managers. With this accreditation I wanted to openly share my knowledge to help guide early years settings and remove some of the tension attached to inspections, as the stress often involved doesn’t do the children or staff any good.”
Vanessa added: “Being ready for your early years inspection can be one of the most stressful occasions in an early years setting. With the limited amount of support local authorities are now being able to deliver and the far-reaching outstanding result as your grade seems further away I believe there is a real need for knowledge sharing in this area. I really hope I can make an impact as I support others making an impact to the lives of children.”